The Heritage Foundation

Backgrounder #786 on Middle East

August 31, 1990

August 31, 1990 | Backgrounder on Middle East

Preparing America to Win Low-Intensity Conflicts

(Archived document, may contain errors)

August 31,1990 PREPARING AMERICA To WIN mw=mm comcrs INTRODUCTION with a speed unprecedented in world history, the Uni ted States is deploy ing a massive military force to Saudi Arabia to block Iraqi aggression. There will be many lessons to be drawn from this confrontation with Iraq. One im portant lesson is: the clash with Iraq is not likely to be the paradigm of Americ a n military challenges in the post-Cold War world. Few nations boast armed forces the size of Iraqs. Ironically, therefore, while America may be ready to fight the Soviets in Europe or Iraqi forces in the Persian Gulf, this does not mean that America is re ady to fight the much more limited battles agaht what is sure to be more typical threats of this decade: international terrorists, narcotics traffickers, revolutionary groups operating in theThird World, and assorted anti-American dictators.

Most of these threats will take the form of what national security experts call low-intensity conflict (LIC -pronounced lick or hostile and frequent ly armed struggles ranging from psychological warfare and terrorist attacks to small scale wars.Though this danger grows , America lacks the manpower equipment, organization, and has lacked the will to meet it.

Progress and Problems. To be sure, some progress was made on LICs in the 1980s.This was spurred by the Reagan Doctrine, which committed the U.S. to aiding freedom fig hters against Soviet or communist regimes and to shoring up Americas fiends and allies against Soviet- and Cuban-backed in surgencies. LIC funding was boosted somewhat, and some organizational problems were fixed. Enormous problems, however, remain. One o f the most serious is that the National Security Council (NSC and the Defense, Justice State, and Treasury Departments continue to direct their efforts almost ex elusively on U.S.-Soviet issues, at the expense of programs designed to com bat LIC threats. A n other problem is that as tank and mechanized divisions best suited for large-scale wars are cut back, there is little agreement within the Bush Administration or Congress on how best to field the highly-trained specially-equipped and mobile forces needed to win low-intensity conflicts.

Low-intensity warfare, moreover, is not fought with military forces alone. It often has economic, social, ideological, and political dimensions. For this reason a comprehensive LIC policy must coordinate the efforts of the D epart ments of Defense, Justice, State, Treasury, the intelligence services, and other appropriate agencies. If there is to be such a comprehensive LIC policy to prepare America to fight the dictators, terrorists, and drug lords who in the coming decade a r e likely to pose a growing threat to U.S. global interests then George Bush should Form a Wisemen Commission to develop a post-Cold War strategy for the U.S> The longstanding U.S. strategy of containment, while successful is obsolete. A new strategy is ne e ded to replace it. This new strategy should concentrate on the larger role low-intensity conflict will play in U.S. national security policy Adopt a Nation- Building strategy to defeat insurgencies. This is a comprehensive approach mobilizing military, ec o nomic, political, and social assistance to help vulnerable nations protect themselves against internal revolutionary threats and outside powers. It is designed to address the basic economic, political, and social problems that can fuel insurgencies, and t h en take measures to defeat insurgents on the battlefield Lead on LIC issues. Only explicit direction and directives from the President can overcome the bureaucratic obstacles to an effective LIC effort erected by the National Security Council, Pentagon, S t ate Department, and other agencies Appoint a Deputy Assistant to the President for Low-Intensity Con flict at the National Security Council, as suggested by Congress. The 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Defense Reorganization Act suggests that the President appoin t a Deputy Special Assistant for Low-Intensity Conflict on the NSC staff to act, in effect, as a LIC czar, to initiate and coordinate LIC policy among the federal agencies. Bush has not done so SOPAG This group of retired military officers and LIC speciali s ts advises the Pentagon on special operations policy. SOPAG now meets only two to four times annually. It should meet at least every two months. Its retired of Strengthen the Pentagons Special Operations Policy Advisory Group 1 See Kim R. Holmes and James A. Phillips, A Wisemen Commission to Craft Americas P,ost-Cold War Foreign and Defense Policy, Heritage Foundation Buc-der No. 767, May 2,1990 2 WHAT IS ficers should be barred from serving more than three years after retirement to keep membership up to d ate on fast-changing LIC issues Increase the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) budget.

SOCOM is the military command that carries out the type of special opera tions often used in low-intensity conflict. Examples: hostage rescue and counter-terrorism . SOCOM is to receive $2.4 billion this year, or less than one percent of the Pentagons budget. SOCOM needs $350 million more for special operations equipment, maintenance of existing equipment and programs, and training, particularly in the skills requir e d for nation-build ing, such as foreign language abilities 1 1 vanced lightweight backpack radio systems and such aircraft as the V-22 Upgrade Special Operations Forces (SOF) equipment. SOFs need spe cial equipment to conduct unconventional warfare. Examp l es include ad my, which takes off and lands like a helicopter but flies like a plane.The V-22 can fly long distances without refueling and slip unnoticed into hostile t em tory Ensure that State Department and Pentagon officials and other agen cy represen t atives in American embassies work together on LIC issues. Such agency representatives at American embassies in foreign countries often operate at cross purposes. A LIC czar at the NSC should be empowered to I enforce cooperation between the various U.S. a g encies responsible for carry ing out U.S. policy on LIC 1 Raise funding for manpower, equipment, and training for intelligence activities in theThird World, and expand the range of U.S. intelligence ac tivities. American intelligence services need more an d better resources to col lect intelligence in theThird World. Bush should ask Congress to increase funding for more manpower and equipment and better training for intel ligence agents. Bush also should issue a Presidential Directive enabling the CIAto car r y out onlywith presidential and congressional authority -such rarely discussed, but occasionally necessary, paramilitary operations as ac tions to kill or overthrow foreign leaders who pose an extreme and direct security threat to the U.S LOW-INTENSITY CO N FLICT Low-intensity conflict has been defined many ways he White House defines it sparingly as conflict [that] involves the struggle of competing principles and ideologies below the level of conventionalwar. Poverty and the lack of political freedoms cont r ibute to the instability that breeds such conflict.2 2 The White House, National Securily Sborcgy of the United States, March 1990 3 A Reagan-era White House definition was more comprehensive low-in tensity conflicts may be waged by a combination of means , including the use of political, economic, informational, and military instrumen Major causes of low-intensity conflict are instability and lack of political and economic development in the Third World. These conditions provide fertile ground for unrest a n d for groups and M~~OIU wishing to exploit unrest for their own purposes An effective U.S. response .to this form of warfare re quires the use of a variety of policy instruments among U.S. government agencies and internationally. Responses may draw on eco nomic, political, and informational took as well as military assistance."

Pentagon Definition. The Joint Chiefs of Staff of the military services define LIC as "political-military confrontation between contending states or groups below conventional war and above the routine, peaceful competition among states. It frequently involves protracted struggles of competing pM ciples and ideologies. Low-intensity conflict ranges from subversion to the use of armed force. It is waged by a combination of means employ i ng politi cal, economic, informational, and military instruments. Low-intensity con flicts are often localized, general1 in theThird World, but contain regional and global security implications J The latter two definitions highlight important common point s the prevalence of LXC in theThird World 4 the importance of social, economic, and political factors in LIC; and the variety of informational, military, and economic tools that can be used to defeat an adversary in a LIC situation.

But these definitions a lso are lacking. LIC does not necessarily entail armed conflict. It can mean simply political maneuvering and psychological warfare. It can be waged in the industrial as well as theThird World, as evidenced by such European terror groups as the Irish Repu b lican Army IRA) and the Basque Fatherland and Liberty group (ETA) in Spah Without a common definition accepted by all the relevant military and civilian U.S. agencies responsible for LIC, the U.S. will not by able to craft a credible LIC force 3 The White House, National Security Stmtegy of the United States 1987, p. 32-

34. See also, Richard H. Shultz Discriminate Deterrence and Low-Intensity Conflict: The Unintentional Legacy of the Reagan Administration Conj7ict,Vol. 9 (1989 p. 26 4 Joint Chiefs of Staf f bine for Joint Optmations in LowIntensify hflut, January 1990, p. xvii 4 TOWARD A BETIER DEFINITION Military experts speak of a conflict spectrum. By this they mean a con tinuous range of hostilities extending from espionage and conomic sanctions at the lower end to nuclear war in the high intensity zone. The intensity of a particular kind of conflict is defined by the degree of violence employed by its participants.

The boundaries of LIC on the conflict spectrum are ambiguous. LICs upper boundary border s on mid-intensity conflict; this includes the conven tional phase of insurgencies as well as limited nuclear and conventional war fare. The Iraqi hision of Kuwait is a mid-intensity conflict. LICs lower boundary borders on nod peacetime competition; this includes competi tive but non-hostile actions between nations such as taking advantage of loopholes in the General Agreement onTariffs and Trade only by a relatively limited level of violence, but by the more limited objec tives for which combatants gener a lly vie. Limited objectives can range from occupying a small parcel of disputed land to trying to subvert an enemy economically. Nevertheless, low-intensity conflict can be fierce and can aim for the eventual complete destruction of an enemy. The most fam i liar forms of low-intensity conflict are terrorism, insurgency, international narcotics traf ficking, coups detut, and minor conventional wars involving limited numbers of forces. But there are others. Simply mobilizing a large armed force armed with nucl ear weapons, not to attack but to intimidate, is a type of low-inten sity conflict. So, too, is the use of a large army to fight in a limited way, for limited gains, as with U.S. forces in Grenada in 19

83. A naval blockade, as that against Iraq, is also a form of low-intensity conflict.

Special Operations are irregular or unconventional missions, usually car ried out by military forces. These can include hostage rescue, deep reconnais sance in enemy territory, counter-terrorism, and small-scale offensive actions.

These operations characteristically are directed at political and military tar gets of high value to an enemy, and are carried out by small, highly trained units. Because of their focused nature, Special Operations cannot substitute for such long -term efforts as nation-building in defeating an insurgency.

Yet they often are an important part of a military campaign to defeat an ad versary engaged in LIC.

Types of Weapons. LIC instruments of coercion are not all military. Non violent LIC weapons include political manipulation, such as the Sandinista rigging of Nicaraguas 1984 elections, or the repeated election fraud of P Limited Violence, Limited Objectiv e s. Low-intensity conflict is defined not 5 The conflict spectrum is a tool used by strategkts to determine the level of intensity of a given type of warfare which in turn determines the kinds of responses, military or non-military, which are most appropri a te 5 Tspical Tspe Conflicts Transnational Terrorism Anti/counterterrism Narw Conflict Conventional War(Minor NONVIOLENT CONFLICZS Political Warfare Economic Warfare Technological Warfare Peacekeepitlg Psychological Warfare 1. Chemical and biological warfa r e may augment nuclear and/or conventional capabiities at any conflict level, but do not constitute a separate type 2. Phase I and II insurgencies include undergrounds and guerrillas. They exclude employment of large paramilitary formations, which suppleme n t undergrounds and guerrillas duringPhaseIII Source: John Collins, U.S. Low-Intensity Conflicts, 18!I9-199on (Washington, D.C Congressional Research Service, May 1990 Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines. Broadcast and other media can be used for political ends, as in the use of Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe to counter state-controlled media in communist countries. Economic weapons include cutting off trade, such as occurred during the Arab oil embargo of 1973 and 1974, and freezing foreign assets, as the U.S. has done to Iran since 1979.Technological means also figure in non-violent, low-intensity conflict.

An example is the deployment of spy satellites to monitor opponents military preparations. Psychological weapons include media campaigns to discre dit an enemy. This surely was the KGBs intent in the 1980s when it spread rumors that .U.S. scientists had developed the AIDS virus to kill millions in theThird World.

Military weapons used in violent low-intensity conflicts include nuclear chemical, and biological systems although these would have to be used in limited ways, for example, as a threat, to be considered low-intensity. More commonly, LIC is fought with such prosaic small arms as machine guns grenades, and mortars. Combatants are more apt to m ove around the bat 6 tlefield in jeeps and trucks than in tanks. Cargo and gunship aircraft such as helicopters are more prevalent than such modem jet fighters as F-15 Eagles. fought in theThird World but can erupt anywhere, including in the U.S. and Euro p e. The violent actions of the so-called Weather Underground and the Puerto Rican National Liberation Force in the 1960s and early 1970s in America are examples of past LIC problems. Still, most low-intensity con flicts are in theThird World or connected w i th events there. Currently violent insurgencies are underway in Colombia, El Salvador, India, Mozambi que, Peru, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and a number of other countries. In some of these conflicts Washington provides military and humanitarian assis tan c e and training in support of friendly governments. In the case of such anti communist movements as UNITA in Angola, and the mujahideen Freedom Fighters in Afghanistan, the U.S. is supporting insurgencies against govern ments hostile to the U.S Where Low-I n tensity Conflicts Occur. Low-intensity conflicts generally are LOW-INTENSITY CONFLICT THREATS TO US. SECURITY America continues to face many threats to its security and interests around the world.Though the Cold War is winding down, such dangers as intern ation al drug trafficking and insurgency warfare will continue, and most of them will arise in theThird World.

Latin America The U.S. has recognized Latin America as a vital security interest since proclamation of the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, which warned the European powers not to interfere in the affairs of the Western Hemisphere. Today, it is less the interference of outside hostile powers than narcotics production and trafficking that creates problems for the U.S. in Latin AmericaTwo-thirds of the tota l illicit U.S. drug supqy comes from Latin America, particularly from Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru. The production and flow of drugs, of course not only damages American society, but can destabilize democratic govern ments through narco-terrorism (such as t he random bombings by the Medel lin drug cartel in Colombia) and related cormption.The laundering of illegal drug profits by legitimate banks further feeds corruption by making more funds available to the traffickers on both sides of the border.

Such Marxi st guerrilla groups as the Fruabundo Marti Libemtion Fmnt FMLN) in El Salvador and Peru's Shining Path threaten their countries' democratically elected governments as well as U.S. political interests. The Shining Path has destabilized the government of Pe r u through terrorism and 6 Fred Woerner The Strategic Imperatives for the US. in Latin America Milifmy Mew, February 1!)89 p. m 7 8 political assassination, and has forged links with coca growers, who supply the raw material for the manufacture of cocaine. The FMLN, which launched a major offensive against the Salvadoran government last winter, has unleashed waves of terror driving hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans out of their country.

Regional instability caused by insurgencies, terrorism, high nationa l debts inflation, and widespread poverty risks U.S. access to strategic minerals and markets in Latin America as well as thwarting U.S. attempts to promote democracy. Latin Americas export of strategic materials to the U.S. include oil, bauxite (used to make aluminum) and antimony (important for making advanced metal alloys).The U.S. traded abyut $122 billion worth of goods with its Latin American neighbors in 1988.

Much of this trade passes not only through the Panama Canal, but also through the Caribbean Sea, which is potentially threatened by Cuba.

Asia Asias greatest value to the YS. is as a trading partner. Asia-U.S. trade in 1988 totaled over $280 billion. This includes raw materials that drive both Asian and U.S. industry as well as agricultural go ods and such high-technol ogy items as computer chips and electronics. Important U.S. allies in Asia are directly threatened either by the Soviet Union, by other communist regimes or by insurgencies. South Korea, of course, collfronts North Korea;Thailand borders on Cambodia, whose regime is sponsored by a hostile Vietnam; the U.S. backed mujahideen is at war with Moscows allies in Afghanistan. In the Philippines, home to the most important U.S. military bases in Asia Clark Air Base and the Subic Bay Naval Base the pro-U.S. government of Corazon Aquino is under attack from communist guerrillas stability by corrupting governments and societies. For another, an increasing amount of opium entering the U.S. comes from the GoldenTriangle formed by Burma, Laos, a nd Thailand, and from Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Regional conflicts among Asian powers are another source of instability. The long simmering border conflict between Pakistan and India over the Kashmir region yet again is heating up. Growing Indian power is a threat to the tradi tional U.S. ally, Pakistan, which has served as the major conduit for U.S. sup plies to the Afghan mujahideen. A potential danger in Asia is rising Muslim fundamentalism. In Indonesia, which controls the sea lanes through which Drug t rafficking is a major problem across Asia. For one thing, it creates in 7 US. Fornip T& Highlights 1988, U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington, D.C July 1989.These are the latest aggregate trade figures available from the Commerce Department 8 Thomas J. Timmons, ed US. andAsia St&fical Handbook (Washington, D.C.,The Heritage Foundation 1989 8 flows Middle East oil on its way to Japan and the other industrial powers of East Asia, a fundamentalist-based mutiny was crushed this spring.

The Middle East As the Iraq-Kuwait crisis shows, the main U.S. interest in the Middle East is to assure a steady flow of oil to the industrialized world. Middle East oil ac counted for 24.6 percent of total U.S. oil imports this March. Middle East oil is even more important fo r U.S. allies in Europe and Asia. Theliotal value of U.S. trade with the Middle East in 1988 was about $21 billion. Other major American interests in the area include the preservation of moderate, pro Western states such Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Tu r key as a hedge against the expansionary aims of Muslim fundamentalism and radical leaders like Iraqs Saddam HussehThe U.S. also seeks to curtail the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and missile technology, eradicate terrorist groups, and halt the flow of opium and hashish from Lebanon.

Africa 1988, the U.S. depends on Africa for over 85 percent of such critically im portant strategic metals as cobalt, chromium, and platinum group ores. These metals are used in jet engines and other high t echnology items and are needed to maintain Americas technological and military superiority over the Soviet Union and other political adversaries. Africa controls such sea lanes as the Cape of Good Hope and the Horn of Africa, around which pass most oil sh ipments from the Middle East to America and Europe. Africa is also an area of clashing interests with the U.S.S.R which provides an estimated $800 million annually in economic and military aid each to Angola and Ethiopia.

The Soviet Union still deploys up to 4,000 military advisers in Sub-Saharan Africa. Current violent conflicts in Africa include: Angola, Ethiopia, Liberia Mozambique, Sudan, Somalia, South Africa, Uganda, and Western Sahara Thqygh the U.S. traded only $15 billion worth of goods with Afric a in LOW- INTENSITY CONFLICT IN US. HISTORY The first conflicts fought between American Indians and European settlers were low-intensity conflicts. So were the Boston Massacre in 1770 and the BostonTea Party in 17

73. The young U.S. dispatched Marines on Navy ships to what is todayTripoli, Libya in 1804-1805, to protect American shipping from Barbary pirates and to rescue hostages.The last centurys battles with American Indians employed what has been a familiar Sov i et 20th Century LIC technique: uprooting hostile populations to prevent them from aiding 9 Department of Energy, Public Affairs Office, authors interview, August 1990 10 US. Foeign Trade Highlights 1988 11 hid 9 and abetting their forces in combat.This wa s the essence of the policy of In dian reservations.

Sixty LICs This Centmy. Counter-insurgency operations in the Philippines from 1899 to 1913 against Filipino nationalist forces gave American troops their first taste of major jungle warfare. America has engaged in gunboat diplomacy, covert actions, direct assistance, occupation, and peacemaking ac tions throughout Latin America in Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba Dominican Republic, El Salvador, the Falkland Islands, Guatemala, Mexico Nicaragua, an d Panama and have kept European powers out of the Western Hemisphere in the 19th and 20th Centuries. Even during such high intensity wars as World War II, the U.S. conducted irregular operations against the Germans and Japanese, including the creation of i ntelligence net works, guerrilla armies, and resistance groups in occupied France and Poland and the Philippines. Paramilitary covert action was carried out by U.S. Spe cial Forces and the CIA against communist forces in Laos during the 1960s.

Operation "Just Cause" in Panama last December is the most recent example of U.S. military involvement in LIC. A study published this May by the Conlz gressional Research Service counts U.S. involvement in 60 LICs since 1899.

In sum, the U.S. has greater incidental experience with LIC than with large scale conventional warfare. Moreover, America has needed forces to respond to low-intensity conflicts throughout its history.

Policy failures. With its history of involvement in LIC, the U.S. should be well prepared to d eal with it today. But resistance to fighting LIC or adopting an effective LIC policy exists throughout the federal bureaucracy.The focus of U.S. policy has always been elsewhere, particularly Western Europe, which seemed to pose the most ovenvhelming thr e at to U.S. interests. U.S. military and political strategies flowed from this assumption. Post-World War II U.S defense policy was based on four requirements, all stemming from the Soviet threat 1) deterrence based on nuclear and conventional strength 2) f orward deployment of U.S. military might on foreign territory 3) alliances such as NATO; and 4) large standing and reserve forces.13 These have succeeded in Winning the Cold War but have failed to address the problems of LIC 12 John Collins, U.S. Lon*.Int e nsity Conflict, 1899-1990 (Washington, D.C Congressional Research Service May 1990 13 Robert Goldich and Stephen Daggett Defense goals in the 195)Os Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C May 22,1990, p. 23 10 ATEMPIS AT LIC R EFORM After a series of LIC failures, includingvietnam and particularly Jimmy Carters April 1980 failed Desert One hostage rescue mission in Iran momentum grew in Congress to address American deficiencies in Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict ( often combined into the single acronym SOLIC).

The first attempt to do so was the 1982 establishment of the Army Special Operations Command (SOCOM combining under one roof all Army Spe cial Operations troops. These included Special Forces (Green Berets Ran gers, civil affairs and psychological operations (or psyops) troops.

Army SOCOM was directed to work closely with the Air Forces Special Operations Wing (SOW) which provides ground forces with transport and gunship aircraft. Naval special forces provide s ea-based strike forces and counter-terrorism teams known as SEALS (for Sea, Air, Land forces).

Created also in 1982, was the Joint Special Operations Command with con trol over the counter-terrorism units known ashy Delta Force and Navy SEAL Team Six. These groups were all subsumed under the Special Opera tions Command (SOCOM) in 1987.

In 1984, the Pentagon established the Joint Special Operations Agency to oversee, plan and coordinate all aspects of special operations within the military. That year also, the Special Operations Policy Advisory Group, com posed of retired of ficers and LIC ex perts, was established to advise the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense on SOLIC issues. As a result of congres sional efforts to im prove SOLIC capab i lities, along with some high level political support for SOLIC within the Reagan Administra tion, the Special Operations Forces r.eadiness and equip ment have been im roved. For example gdditional Army Spe ial Forces Groups were created, most recently thi s spMg 11 and long range helicopters such as the MH-53 Pave Low were acquired since the beginning of SOCOM.

Lacking Clout. These have been useful improvements in LIC capabilities.

Yet very significant problems remained. Despite their impressive names, for example, the Joint Special Operations Agency and the Special Operations Policy Advisory Group have lacked the clout to affect a system biased against elite forces and unconventional warfare. This was proved by the fact that until recently Green Berets ha d difficulty advancing in the Army ranks only in the last decade did they receive their own military occupational specialty M.O.S career track Neither the Secretary of Defense nfi the White House, meanwhile, have made clear the importance of LIC.

In response to continued shortcomings in the performance of SOLIC for ces, Congress mandated further changes in 19

86. The result was Public Law 99-661.This sought to establish a coordinating, advisory board for LIC within the National Security Council, an Assista nt Secretary of Defense for SOLIC to manage LIC issues at the Pentagon, a U.S. Special Operations Command to which the Special Operations Forces of all the services would be assigned and a separate budget category for SOCOM within the overall Pentagon bud get. Further, Congress suggested that the President establish the position of Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs-Low-Inten sity Conflict within the NSC.

One shortcoming in the l egislation, however, is that the SOCOM com mander is subordinate to the five regional Commanders in Chiefs (CINCs the U.S. military commanders for the Atlantic, Central (Middle East Europe, Pacific, and Southern (Latin America) re unless otherwise directe d by the President or Secretary of Defense. This is a shortcoming be cause regional CINCs mainly view Special Operations Forces as useful ad juncts to conventional troops in wartime as saboteurs, for example possib ly preventing them from engaging in other types of missions.

Special Operations Responsibilities. The legislation also drew up a list of command and planning responsibilities for Special Operations Command.

These include: civil affairs (military government administration in a war zone counter-te rrorism (hostage rescue and action against terrorists be hind-the-lines sabotage or direct action, foreign internal defense (training foreign military forces), humanitarian assistance (a large element of nation building including public health programs an d deliveries of food and clothes psyops (psychological operations to break enemy morale strategic recon 14 Shultz, OF. cit p. 35-37 15 James Nichol, Special Operations and Low-Intcnsity.Conflict: US. Progress and Problems, Congressional Research Service, W a shington, D.C 1990, p. 2 12 naissance (deep penetration of hostile territory to collect information theater search and rescue (rescuing downed pilots), unconventional warfare leading guerrilla troops behind enemy lines)lpd other activities as directed by t he President or the Secretiuy of Defense AFIERTHE REFORM Problems at the National Security Council. Despite the legislation to im prove American SOLIC capabilities, progress has been slow. Typical has been the fate of the LIC Board at the National Securit y Council. In 1986 it was comprised of several inter-agency groups that included representatives from the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Justice, State, and Treasury, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Securit y Agency, and U.S. Information Agency. These interagency groups ex tended down to the action officer level and included four sub-working groups.

The LIC board, however, has been reorganized by Bush National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft; he abolished al l but its, Assistant Secretary-level and Deputy Assistant Secretary-level working groups, the latter of which meets weekly. This effectively eliminates all interagency contact between the key lower level officials who were responsible for making and carry ing out LIC policy day-to-day.This UC board is due to produce its first global policy paper, a definition of future U.S. LIC policy, in 19

91. Scowcroft also gave LIC responsibility to the International Programs Directorate of the NSC, which in cludes only one military officer specializing in LIC, is understaffed, and has less clout than most other NSC groups. Most damning, perhaps is that there still is no Deputy Assistant to the President for LIC within the NSC, as re quested by Congress in 19

86. One possible reason why LIC has been neglected by the NSC is that Scowcroft and his deputy, Robert Gates, are Soviet strategic specialists by training, and therefore focus mainly on East West issues, which were preeminent during the Cold War.

Assistant Secretar y of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict. The position of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict (ASD/SOLIC) was filled in 1988, al most two years after it was mandated by Congress. This delay was bad enough.

To make matters worse, the military staff assigned to this office have been effective SOLIC policy has been retained.The effectiveness of LIC policy also has been hurt by competition for control over humanitarian assistance programs b etween the Pentagons office of International Security Affairs rotated very frequently.The result: little of the expertise needed to formulate 16 hid, p 3. For defraitions of these terms see John Collins, U.S. and Soviet Special Operations Congressional Re search Service, Washington, D.C 1986 13 responsible forThird World issues, and the new Assistant Secretary for SOLAIC.

Improvements of Special Operations Command. The Special Operations Command was activated at MacDill Air Force Base in April 19

87. The c ur rent commander, General Carl Stiner, has extensive special operations ex perience, as did his predecessor General James Lindsay. SOCOM also has of fices at the Pentagon and representatives at all of the major regional com mands. Its current makeup incl u des Army Green Berets, Rangers, civil af fairs, psychological operations and special operations aviation units; Navy SEALS and SEAL Delivery Vehicle teams to bring them ashore; and Air Force units that fly special operations forces to and from their targe t s, pro- vide firepower from AC-130 gunships, conduct aerial refueling missions, and provide special operations weather and combat control teams. SOCOM unifies under one command all of the special operations forces of the military services except the Marin es.

SOCOMs success has led to improvements in standardizing equipment and doctrine among the Special Operations Forces, more aircraft for special operations airlift (such as long-range helicopters), a needed boost in staff, im proved intelligence capabilit ies, and progress in joint training among the ser vices.

Hindering Planning. Remaining problems include a shortage of personnel to run budgeting and acquisition programs.This causes unnecessary ad ministrative delays in filling equipment and manpower need s. Another prob lem is that SOCOMs Joint Mission Directorate has not produced the re quested study of potential global missions that SOCOM will have to face.The lack of this mission requirements study hinders planning for SOCOM readi ness forcing SOCOM to respond to events in ad hoc fashion.

The dependency on such helicopters as the MH-53 and MH-47 Pave Low series to provide SOCOM's airlift, meanwhile, limits the range at which spe cial operations can be carried out. Despite the modifications to these airc raft that improve flight systems and that add aerial refueling capability, the airframe is outdated and is probably incapable of being upgraded further.

The SEALS are in urgent need of new high speed patrol boats to provide them with a quick covert-entry capability. Without this, SEAL teams are more vulnerable to enemy detection and interception. And the MC-130 Com bat Talon fixed-wing aircraft is behind schedule.This plane's advanced electronic jamming and navigational systems will allow special forces to in filtrate into and be resupplied inside hostile territory without being detected.

Until the plane is delivered, the range of missions for special forces will be limited.

Still a Meager Budget. The creation of a separate budget category for SOCOM within the overall Pentagon budget has been the.most effective means of providing autonomy for SOCOM.This permits SOCOM to make personnel, training, and equipm ent decisions as it sees fit. Yet, other, com 14 mands and agencies still control many issues bearing directly on SOCOM Example: SOCOM was to use the V-22 Osprqy tilt-rotor airplane, which was to have been acquired for the Air Force and Marines. But becau se the Air Force did not back the program strongly and because the Secretary of Defense refused to request funds for the V-22, SOCOM does not have the use of these advanced aircraft.

Other Agencies. Congress has focused its efforts to reform low-intensity conflict policy-making on the Pentagon and the National Security Council while ignoring the shortcomings of other agencies such as the State Depart ment, whose desire to avoid involvement in LIC is so great it has assigned only one official, a military of ficer on loan from the Pentagon, to serve in its LIC office. Since LIC is political as well as military, other elements of the ex ecutive branch have a role in formulating LTC strategy and in LIC operations.

Because of its analytical and operational capabi lities, the CIA is the agency that can deal most comprehensively with LIC on various levels, from paramilitary covert action to political warfare. In fact, the CIA was the lead agency for LIC throughout the 1950s and 1960s. It gave up this role only be ca u se its reputation was damaged during the Vietnam War. The Carter Ad ministration, to make matters worse, changed the CIAS focus from relying on human sources to such technical on s as satellites and ground-based listening stations for gathering informatio n. These events led the senior leadership of the CIA to shy away from LIC involvement, especially covert action, in the 1970s and 1980s.

This attitude began to change after the late William bey became Director of Central Intelligence in 19

81. But the CIA was bruised again by the fallout from the Iran-Contra affair. According to LIC expert Richard Shultz, Profes sor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy similar opposition to LIC missions exists in other civilian departments and agencies. This was tr u e at the State Department, the Agency for International Development, and the U.S. Information Agency, among others. Since no senior coordinating struc ture exists within the White House to marshal these different bureaucratic elements behind a coherent LI C policy, the resglt was an ad hoc and dis jointed approach that persisted through 1986.

This remains true in 1990 because there has been no overhaul of the bureaucracies capabilities or viewpoint, which continues to focus on the Soviet threat 17 Nichol, o p. cit., p. 5-14 18 Shultz, op. cit., p. 31 19 Ibidp.32 15 Nation-Building. Despite progress, the U.S. approach to IJC remains ad hoc.This is particularly true in the case of combatting communist insurgen cies, such as those now engulfing El Salvador and the Philippines. A com prehensive approach to defeating insurgencies would entail a government wide effort to employ a strategy hown as nation-building.

Nation-building is a comprehensive effort to provide military, economic political, and social assistanc e to help .vulnerable nations protect themselves against internal revolutionary threats and outside powers. It is designed to ad dress the basic economic, political, and social problems that can fuel insurgen cies, in addition to taking measures to defeat insurgents on the battlefield. A successful strategy of.nation building requires the cooperation and close coor dination of numerous government bureaucracies, including the State Defense and Justice Departments, as well as smaller agencies like the CIA.

S uch cooperation does not exist in the U.S. government. Though Washington sends advisers, equipment, and money to nations fighting insurgencies, there is no master plan to direct them toward victory. A key example is El Salvador where military and civil as s istance has unsuccessfully masqueraded as nation building, failing to coordinate U.S. government actions and not generating the support of the El Salvadoran Armed Forces, since the mid-1980s FORGING A NEW POLICY TOWARD LOW-INTENSITY CONFLICTS America face s serious challenges to its interests worldwide despite a weakened Soviet threat in Europe. These are not likely to subside in a world of nations divided by race and religion, led in many cases by heavily armed dictatorial regimes and suffering still from t he effects of the decades long Soviet effort to undermine global peace and stability. Rather, threats to America from low-intensity conflicts are apt to increase. Washington must reassess thoroughly its policy toward LIC if it is to deal with what is like ly to be the most pervasive and frequent threat to American interests in the 1990s.

To do this, George Bush should Form a Wisemen Commission to develop a new post-Cold War strategy for the U.S.ao The longstanding American strategic policy of containment ha s succeeded it now, however, is obsolete. A new strategy is needed to replace it.This new strategy should concentrate on the larger role low-intensity conflict will play in U.S. national security policy. LIC strategy should build on the work of Ronald Rea g ans Commission on Integrated LongTerm Strategy, whose 1988 report called fichzinate Detmnce identified six essential LIC elements for future U.S. strategy: supporting friendly governments against insurgent threats, ameliorating the root causes of global i n stability, supporting selected 20 Holmes and Phillips, op. cit 16 anti-communist resistance movements, discouraging Soviet and other govern ment support of terrorism and insurgency, suppressing narcotics traffic, and detering and combating international t e rrorism. These six remain valid today but new strategies for achieving them need to be formulated in light of evolv ing threats and declining Soviet power. They include: new multilateral diplomatic efforts to achieve an international consensus on terroris m, full employment of U.S. technical sophistication to track drug couriers, and the use of nation-building strategies Adopt a strategy of nation-building.

Nation-building brings political and economic stability to a threatened country by providing military , economic, political, and social assistance. Work ing to solve some of the problems that fuel insurgencies often can prevent conflict from starting, and can help defeat insurgencies once they are under way visers in close cooperation with host government personnel. Activities in clude: helping to build roads, ports, and airports; making potable water and immunization programs available to civilians; training police, military intel ligence groups, and other security forces to function more effectively whil e respecting human rights; and providing expertise to shift to free market agriculture so that peasants have incentives to increase output.These programs to some extent should be modeled on Americas Civil Operations and Revolutionq Development Support (COR D S) program in Vietnam, in which a special ambassador organized a comprehensive, multi-agency nation-building initiative in South Vietnam. Although it was started too late, in 1967, and received little funding, CORDS built strong support for the South Viet namese government among large segments of the population Nation-building activities are carried out by U.S. military and civilian ad 4 Lead on LIC issues.

Only strong presidential leadership on the issue can overcome bureaucratic obstacles within the Natio nal Security Council, the Pentagon, the State Department, and other agencies to forging an effective LIC policy. A com mon approach for LIC must replace the current competing views held and policies practiced by these agencies. Only the White House can do this. Bush should say that a threat exists, that it will take the combined talents of all agencies to meet this threat, and that petty turf battles must give way to a uniform approach. By speaking publicly about the dangers of low-intensity conflict, whil e pressing Congress for funding increases for LIC weapons programs and training, Bush can ensure that the U.S. is prepared for low-in tensity conflicts 17 Appoint a Deputy Assistant to the President for Low-Intensity Con nict at the National Security Counc il, as suggested by Congress.

The 1986 Goldwater-N ichols Defense Reorganization Act suggests the President appoint a Deputy Special Assistant for Low-Intensity Conflict on the NSC staff to act, in effect, as a LIC "czar to initiate and coordinate LIC policy among the federal agencies. Bush has failed to d o so. Planning ade quately for low-intensity conflict requires the participation and coordination of the Departments of Defense, Justice, State, and Treasury, plus the intel ligence services. Only a LIC "czar" in the White House, operating with the full s upport of the President, can achieve this.The LIC czar should be given a small staff of experts who have practical, academic, and policy experience.

This new staff is necessary to meet changing ~tional security requirements and should be offset by cutbacks elsewhere on the NSC to prevent the NSC bureaucracy from growing bloated and unwieldy. Regular interagency meet ings among lower level officials who deal with LIC policy day-to-day, which have been cancelled by Brent Scowcroft, should be reinstituted Rei nvigorate the Special Operations Policy Advisory Group SOPAG).

This group of retired officers and LIC specialists advises the Pentagon on policy for special operations.The SOPAG should meet at least every two months rather than quarterly or semi-annually a s it has been. These military men have the expertise, and now the freedom, to dissent with established Pentagon views. Its retired military members should be barred from serving more than three years after retirement to keep membership up to date on fast- c hanging LIC issues 4 + Increase the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) budget by 350 million. SOCOM is the military command that carries out the "special operations" often used in low-intensity conflict. Examples: hostage rescue and counter-terrorism . SOCOM, which is to receive $2.4 billion this year, or less than one percent of the Pentagon's budget, needs greater funding for spe cial operations equipment and training, particularly in the skills required for nation-building such as foreign languages Upgrade Special Operations Forces equipment.

Equipment should be designed specifically for the special operations often required to fight low-intensity conflicts. Examples include advanced lightweight backpack radio systems such as the Joint Advanced Speci al Operations Radio System, which will be fielded in the mid-1990s.This radio will provide portable, long distance communication that cannot be inter cepted by an enemy. Another system needed is a lightweight, electronic eavesdropping and detection device , now under development to provide clandestine intelligence gathering capabilities to military commanders 18 Another priority is the V-22 Ospq, which the Pentagon has cut from its budget, but which could bring special operations forces to battlefields quic k ly and over long ranges without the need of refueling or runways. Bush should reinstate the V-22 program, requesting $1 billion from Congress for 55 V-22s for SOCOM and $100 billion for the 550 requested by the Marines. Navy SEALS need submarines that per m it their combat teams to enter enemy waters covertly, enter their ship-to-shore vehicles and mount an attack without the submarine having to surface. Army Rangers need such basic equipment as a new four wheel drive all terrain vehicle which outperforms an d is more readily transported, than the current jeep. In addition, the num ber of special operation troops, especially those dedicated to nation-build ing, such as civil affairs, psychological operations (90 percent of which are in the reserves and Special Forces Groups (Green Berets) should be increased from approximately 20,000 active duty troops to 22,OOO active duty troops.

This would add enough troops for an additional special forces group and an additional battalion each for the civil affairs and psyc hological operations units. Their ability to sustain themselves in combat can be improved by in creasing such logistical resources as the Joint Special Operations Stocks which provide pre-packaged containers of rifles, grenades, ammunition, fuel and other supplies and equipment for special operations forces Ensure that the State Department, Pentagon and other agencies repre sented in U.S. embassies cooperate on LIC issues.

Often, special representatives of the Pentagon, State Department, CIA and Defense In telligence Agency at U.S. embassies fail to exchange information and coordinate efforts. This was the case, for example, during last Decembers Operation Just Cause in Panama, when the Pentagons repre sentatives in the U.S. Embassy in Panama City excluded t he State Depart ment staff at the embassy from planning because the State Department staff was not trusted. To correct this, the LIC czar on the NSC staff should be empowered to monitor cooperation among agencies responsible for interdict ing drug courier s or fighting insurgents. Further, smaller federal agencies such as FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Customs Service, and Inter nal Revenue Service should be used more vigorously to support U.S. policy in combatting low-intensity conflicts, particular l y in combatting drug traffic. Ex ample: denying narco-traffickers access to bank accounts containing drug money. Finally, the NSC, as the lead agency for LIC, should mandate and oversee cooperation between these agencies, the Pentagon, and others that typ i cally deal with LIC affairs 19 Raise funding for manpower for intelligence activities in the Third U.S. intelligence services need more resources to improve their capability World, and expand the range of U.S. intelligence activities to collect intelligen c e in theThird World. Bush, should ask Congress to in crease funding for manpower and equipment and better training for intel ligence agents?l He also should issue a Presidential Directive enabling the CIA to carry out only with presidential and congressio n al authority such rarely discussed but occasionally necessary paramilitary operations as killing or overthrowing foreign leaders who pose an extreme and direct security threat to the U.S CONCLUSION America is ill prepared to deal with the low-intensity co n flict threats to its global interests. Civilian and military leaders remain wedded to a war-plan ning and policy world view focused on East-West conflict in Europe, even as the Soviet military threat declines.This has hindered America's ability to tailor its resources to combat the threats to its security from those low-inten sity conflicts like iaurgency, terrorism, narcotics trafficking, and other types of limited warfare.

Despite the gains of the past decade, deficiencies remain in how America approache s LIC. Successfully defeating LIC threats to American security re quires a coordinated effort among a host of federal agencies, including the Departments of Defense, State, and Justice, and such smaller agencies as the CIA and the Drug Enforcement Agency. The most effective strategy for defeating insurgency threats is known as "nation-building which addresses the underlying economic and political causes of low-intensity conflicts.

Presidential Leadership. To increase America's ability to fight and win low intensity conflicts, George Bush's leadership and attention will be required.

For a start, he should appoint a commission of "wisemen," with broad foreign policy experience, to reevaluate American strategy in the post-Cold War world and prepare the Americ a to face future LICs. In addition, he should ap point a Special Assistant for Low-Intensity Conflict on the National Security Council staff as suggested by Congress in the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act.

Further, Bush should reinvigorate the Special Operatio ns Advisory Board which advises the Pentagon on LIC issues, and go to bat for higher budgets for the Special Operations Command, the unified militaq command respon sible for CafIYing out such missions as hostage rescue, counter-terrorism, and sabotage. Bu s h also should instruct the Pentagon to improve training for spe cial operations forces, particularly in foreign languages, and to purchase bet 21 The CIA should develop its own in-house paramilitary units to perform low-level armed operations 20ter specia l ized equipment for U.S. special operations forces, such as special patrol boats for high speed coastal raids by Navy SEALS. He should expand the manpower, equipment, and training available to the CIA ahd other intel ligence services to improve their capab i lity to collect information in theThird World. And he should direct greater CIA involvement in planning and carry ing out LIC operations. This would permit the CIA'S wide range of skills and political sensitivity, to quickly and accurately attack LIC prob lems.

Meeting the Challenge. America will continue to face severe challenges to its interests globally despite the improved relations with the Soviet Union.

Most of these challenges will not be from large military forces, as those massed by Iraq on the Sa udi border, but' from low-intensity conflicts. America must be prepared to meet this LIC challenge. By defusing potential low-inten sity conflicts before they break into armed warfare, and to meet them with military resistance if they do, America will not only protect its own interests but enhance regional stability around the globe.

David Silverstein Policy Analyst 21

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